Is the Ordinary too ordinary?

The Ordinary is a skincare company that has become very popular over the summer of 2020 through social media outlets like Tiktok and Youtube. It’s growth in popularity can be related to the mandated quarantine as people found themselves at home with an ample amount of time on their hands. But perhaps, one of their biggest distinguishing features, is their branding. Their use of Sans Serif typography is clean and inviting to the user. Their color branding uses neutral cool tones. The use of negative and positive space with rectangular shapes is subtle yet so appealing. They have branded themselves as ordinary and for the first time in my life I think ordinary works well for The Ordinary.

Discussion — 2 Responses

  • Stacey Minter 01/31/2021 on 8:38 PM

    I like how The Ordinary’s branding feels clean, clear, and fresh. It’s fitting that a brand known for vegan skincare keeps its visuals clean as well. This is a great example of how a company can use its visuals to support its mission. The clean branding goes along with The Ordinary’s goal of trying to communicate with the integrity they feel the cosmetics industry is missing. The choice of a Sans Serif style also brings modern associations to The Ordinary which can make the user feel like the brand is at the forefront of modern skincare.

  • Josh 02/08/2021 on 3:41 PM

    I like the topic you brought up in this post, Jemima, though I would love to see more insight into this question you presented in the title: “How ordinary is too ordinary?”. You have done a great job of describing the overall relevancy of the branding, but I was also so intrigued by your initial post title that I hoped to see an answer to the question you posed.

    On this topic, I found some interesting insights into the branding of Deciem’s “The Ordinary” skincare line, which brought up some useful answers to questions like yours. In an article by Tom Vanderbilt on the Economist website, this sort of overly-simplified design is described as a form of “unselling”, a strategy apparently aimed against the rise of glamourous and flashy identity seen in other brands. This “unselling” (the distillation of a product’s essential value) can also be seen in the names of each of The Ordinary’s products, such as “white”, “gray”, and “black”. These simple names are in direct contrast to other products, such as Glossier’s “Balm Dotcom”, which often employ fun and fanciful titles that coincide with cultural trends. In another article, written by designer Estela Xu, the brand’s simplistic and borderline “boring” look is celebrated and utilized to actually stand out in the ocean of skincare products buzzing around the internet’s biggest media outlets, such as TikTok and Instagram.

    When it comes to The Ordinary brand, the question of “how ordinary is too ordinary” is certainly one of personal preference. Personally, I find the identity to be too boring and actually just another example of market trends, which is why The Ordinary actually comes across as even more pretentious than other brands I have seen. However, I do think their approach to transparency and concise communication of their product’s strengths is something that should be imitated more often. For example, product names like “Caffeine Solution 5%” and “Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%” are entirely boring, but they cut the fat off of glamourized verbiage seen elsewhere.

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